Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Best Hot Dogs!

The other day, when leaving Home Depot, my son, Hugh, spotted & smelled the vendor who flips hot dogs at the door to the store. Hugh had a $1.25 in his pocket and asked if he could get one.   Being in a weakened motherly state, I said “Sure!” and even spotted him the additional 75 cents needed for the $2 dog.

You need to know this splurge was out of character for me.  I don’t each much meat.  Not for any particular reason, it’s just how I’ve been since my childhood. And one of my least favorite meat items is hot dogs. You will rarely find them at my house - even though my kids & husband love them.

Well, according to my son, this was the best hot dog he ever had in his life. In the car on the way home, he pontificated that the reason it was the best hot dog was because the vendor made them with compassion and hope. He was hoping someone would buy one.

Wow! A hot dog made with compassion and hope. That’s one worth biting into! As you know, you are what you eat.

first published online in 2010 at www.LongLisa.com

Monday, October 3, 2016

Soak It Up: Magnesium's Benefits

I became deeply intrigued about magnesium’s role in our bodies after attending a lecture a few years ago by Dr. Sean Orr (neurologist, Baptist Medical Center downtown). During his lecture he said he encourages his patients to explore several relatively safe natural products to help alleviate some of their issues. He spoke highly of magnesium.

I began taking a powdered form of magnesium after his lecture. My common issue of muscle “locks up” in my right leg (post surgery) - have disappeared. I no longer take the magnesium every day - just every so often.

I do soak in Epsom Salts now which is another way to absorb magnesium.  

Please google Epsom Salt & magnesium to learn more. You will be fascinated - helps not only with nervous system - but also digestive issues. Some even claim success with hyperactivity & autism.

In the meantime, here’s a few bath ideas. Please do not soak more than 20 minutes - and plan to go to bed post soak. You can google this topic to find out additional precautions that may apply to you.   And if you have concerns, please consult with a qualified medical practitioner.

This is my family’s current favorite mix.  2 cups epsom salt, 1 cup baking soda.  16 oz. bottle of hydrogen peroxide.  20 minute soak.

This bath opens pores and eliminates toxins and also helps to eliminate pain. Stir one cup of epsom salts and 2 tablespoons of ginger in a cup of water first, then add to the bath. Do not remain in the tub for more than 30 minutes.

This bath counteracts the effects of radiation, whether from X-rays, cancer treatment radiation, fallout from the atmosphere, or television radiation. 1 cup of baking soda and 1 to 2 cups of ordinary coarse salt (or epsom salts or sea salt) to a tub of water. You can soak for 20 minutes.

This bath helps with dry skin and stress. Take 1 cup of Epsom salt, 1 cup of sea salt (from the health food store), and 1 cup of sesame oil and put into a warm to hot tub of water and soak for 20 minutes. Pat yourself dry.

This is used when the body is too acidic. This is a quick way of restoring the acid-alkaline balance. 1 cup to 2 quarts of 100% apple cider vinegar to a bathtub of warm water. Soak 40 to 45 minutes. This is excellent for excess uric acid in the body and especially for the joints, arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, and gout.  I have even read that it’s good for urinary tract issues & vaginal issues.

Please do your own research and
explore what might be best for you.  

Happy soaking!

first published online in 2009 at www.LongLisa.com

Thursday, September 8, 2016

I Love the Deep Front Line!

With permission from Tom Myers, I share this image. It’s the breathing or respiratory diaphragm, as he and others dissected it as part of the continuous and amazing Deep Front Line of the body. Through his company, Kinesis®, and Anatomy Trains® teachings, many are being exposed to a comprehensive explanation of the anatomy and function of the myofascial system.

My senior Yoga teacher, Jenny Otto (Kinesis Certified & Anusara Certified) opened my eyes to this world view. Since 2005, I have been exploring this model even attending several Anatomy Trains training sessions. As well, over the years, I have hosted pot-luck gatherings at my house for teachers and body workers to watch Tom Myers’ videos so we may share and discuss concepts. It’s been Jenny, though, who has taught me how to feel the lines in my body. And therefore, help my students begin to see & feel from this empowering perspective.

At a recent Pilates conference, just about every senior teacher I studied with presented from the assumption that all in the room understood the body from the Anatomy Trains® lines perpective.

If you’re not on “the Train,”  I encourage you to begin the journey.  There’s no particular destination, only deeper understanding, a profound awe, and a marvelous inquiry as we seek.

Enjoy the ride!

first published online in 2010 at www.LongLisa.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Detailing and Knowing We Don't Carry the Load Alone
Our desire to create in a technology driven world may wreck havoc on our bodies. Sitting is the new smoking. We've heard this catch phrase across the media. What does it mean for those of us that sit and work on computers? Not only does it mean tight hips, but also some grumbly complaints in in our neck and shoulders.  
To help alleviate tightness in the hip joint, change positions regularly. I often work while kneeling at my desk. I will either be on both knees or one knee down and the other leg in a lunge position. This seems to really help alleviate tension and strain. 

As well, a few simple stretches for the upper body throughout the day may help decrease tightness in the head, neck and shoulders. Here's an easy exercise to do right now.

Levator Scapula, the muscle that elevates our shoulder, is at play often when we work on our computers or hold our devices.  With this particular muscle, it's important to let go of what is no longer necessary - to literally stop carry the load and "holding it up." 
I find this concept of getting rid of what I don't need connects with our movement work. I find myself trying to create cleaner and cleaner movement that still achieves my desired results. It's all in the details. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Life is Good!

I felt this way before the t-shirts were emblazoned and trademarked with this phrase! Life is good!   It’s also one of the reasons I resonate with Anusara Yoga. At its philosophical root, Anusara espouses that everything is intrinsically good. And there is a deep benevolence to life. All life is sacred.    

We all long for connection. Sometimes, we find ourselves traveling the world in search of connection and meaning.

We don’t have to go very far for the journey to be worthwhile. St. Augustine said, People travel to wonder at the height of mountains and they pass by themselves without wondering.

Through the teachings and trainings I’ve enjoyed with Anusara Yoga, I have spent much time wondering - as we all do about fundamental life questions:

Who am I?
What/who is God, the universe, and the nature of things?
What is my purpose?

May we all sense the good.

first published online in 2009 at www.LongLisa.com

Saturday, July 9, 2016

One Ocean

Here’s my dad and me as we exit the Panama Canal’s last lock to enter Gatun Lake. At 72, my dad can balance in Tree Pose with ease. The most amazing thing is he started practicing Yoga at age 70! My nephew always jokes that you can spot my dad in crowd of gray heads -- because he’s the one standing fully upright!

For 7 decades, my dad has kept his body moving - mostly through his work as a Civil Engineer - walking job sites & climbing ladders. And for over 20 years, he’s been the only man in a twice weekly aerobics class held at my hometown’s middle school.

His latest journey into the mind/body connection through Yoga, has been significant.  Not only has his body become more flexible and less rigid, but also his mind  -- which has allowed him to feel his heart.  This softening of the heart has helped my “tuff & gruff” dad better support my mother who lives with Parkinson’s.

On the eve of 2009, my family embarked on a journey to the Panama Canal - a place that connects oceans & people.

As we begin our transition into another decade, may each of us unlock what binds us & holds us back from connecting.  Like water, may we allow ourselves to flow freely, rising or lowering to the next level of our experience.

And may we recognize, that on Earth, there is only one ocean. We have just labeled the parts. And from this profound understanding, may we see ourselves as whole.

Peace on Earth.  And Peace be with you.

first published online in 2009 at www.LongLisa.com

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Composing Body, Mind, and Breath

Yep, that’s me! Looking like I’m going to fall into the icy water of Glacier Bay in Alaska! All of us seek balance in our lives! In yoga, we spend time balancing in our physical bodies -- finding ways to create evenness -- muscles doing exactly what they are supposed to do, with the right amount of energy, at the right time.

We practice a lot of poses where we balance on one foot or on our arms. Finding the middle ground is a balance of two opposites. In my classes, we often explore the seemingly contradictory concepts of hugging in while at the same time extending out. Between these two extremes, we find the balance -- the equanimity in a pose. In Anusara, we call it "balanced action." We are always balancing!!!

I learn a lot about words through my yoga studies. Sometimes it’s tracing common English words back to their roots in Sanskrit.  Other times, it’s stumbling upon a word that keeps popping up in my training.  Equanimity is one of those words that keeps showing up in my readings and in workshops.  Equanimity means evenness of mind; composure.

I know for me, I often come to practice with my mind out of balance. And when I finish my physical practice - there’s a renewed evenness to my breath and mind. I am composed.

During practice, we are composing a symphony of body, mind and breath.
The instrument we play is our physical body - the most amazing machine ever built by the Creator.

Striving for balanced action allows us to stay out of the icy waters and soar into the heavens.

May each of us find equanimity.

first published online at www.LongLisa.com  copyright  2007 Lisa A. Long

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Setting the Foundation

Yes, that is my right foot that you are looking at! You need to know that my right foot is well known!

Twenty years ago, when I graduated from college, I worked for a small TV station in Pennsylvania. I was a young soul transplanted 5 hours away from my hometown near Washington, D.C.

There were not a lot of dating opportunities in the city where I lived and worked. We called it a place of “newlyweds and nearly deads!” To entertain ourselves, a gaggle of girlfriends would venture to nearby lakes to windsurf and water ski.

One perfect summer evening, when stepping on my friend’s ski boat, a young man on-board, who I did not know, called me by name. I was shocked!

“How do you know my name?” I queried.

He replied, “I paid your brothers a quarter to see your webbed toes at a swim team meet in Maryland.”

Yes, my older brothers did make a profit off of me! And now, despite my ego and with grace, I am carefully placing this same foot into cyberspace!

To walk with Grace, to be in Grace requires some strength and balance. In our physical bodies, strength and balance originates in our feet. Our ability to create a firm foundation with the Earth is what allows us to walk upright. From our foundation, we rise tall!

To help us connect to our feet, I love to share these simple exercises. Students have raved about the difference in their feet in just a few weeks! If some of this is challenging for you, just stay with it.  Know that you are building new pathways in your body.

If you’ve been in class, you know these exercises.
Feel welcome to share them with a friend or loved one.

Roll foot on some type of ball preferably one of our awesome Peanuts that we use for neuromyofascial tissue release work.

Put fingers between each toe.  Massage foot.  Remove fingers.

Lightly wiggle and jiggle each toe - kind of like “this little piggy....”

Use your hand to manually point and flex your foot.

With the 4 corners of your foot rooted, lift and spread all toes.

With toes lifted and spread, put big toe only down (inner arch).

With toes lifted and spread, put baby toe only down (outer arch).

With toes lifted and spread, put big toe and baby toe down (transverse arch).  Other toes in middle lifted and spread.

Notice alignment of your feet throughout your day (frontal hipbone, knee cap, 2nd toe).

Throughout your day, notice equal pressure on all 4 corners of your feet.

When we pay attention to our feet, we walk with sensitivity and we tread more carefully both physically and mentally.

So, go ahead, step forward - boldly and with Grace.

first published online at www.LongLisa.com copyright 2006 Lisa A. Long

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Breath of Life

Lately, the body and mind’s need for rest has been a recurring theme for me! If you’ve been in class, you’ve heard me talk about the importance of connecting with your breath of life. It’s an on-going assignment! I’d like to offer  three gentle reminders for  developing a personal practice focused on breath work.

  • As you exhale, focus on giving the ribcage permission to rest.  Remembering that the ribcage releases towards the pelvis on your exhales.  Inhale on the word “Let,”  exhale on the word, “Go.”
  • After observing your breath for a few cycles, see if you can create evenness between the exhales & inhales.  For example, if you inhale on a 4 count, exhale on a 4 count.
  •  Choose a number, say 25, and count backwards on your exhales.  If you become distracted and lose count, just pick up counting where you last recall.

This summer, my daughter snapped the above photo of me resting and focusing on breath work after touring a historic home in New York’s Hudson Valley. Since then I have enjoyed countless conversations with fellow teachers and students - about our ability (or lack of ability) to rest. What we all seem to need is permission - knowing that it’s okay to sit down and just breathe, just be.

May we all be. Permission granted.

first published online at www.LongLisa.com in 2008

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Yoga's Benefits

The photo is of Jack doing an awesome block lunge at age 85! Jack, from Buffalo, NY,  is married to one of my amazing students, Inez. The article below is from www.empowereddoctor.com. I share the article because I have witnessed my students shift concurring with the research.

“Taking yoga classes yields a slight but important decrease in the fear of falling among senior citizens, a recent study showed, as well as conferring greater lower-body flexibility and removing constraints on their leisure activities.

Fear of falling may have a significant impact on the health and quality of life of older adults because it causes them to curtail their social and physical activity. It has this effect even on those who have never fallen.

"Our study found that yoga was a feasible intervention with older adults and that they perceived great benefit from it," said Marieke Van Puymbroeck, an assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies in Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. She recently discussed her research at the International Association of Yoga Therapists" Symposium for Yoga Therapy and Research, in Los Angeles.

In the study, 14 men and women with an average age of 78 participated in a 12-week, twice-weekly, 60-minute class in hatha yoga, taught by a professional yoga therapist. Five of the subjects had fallen previously. Hatha yoga is a physically easy and non-strenuous form of yoga.

The attendance rate was quite high, Van Puymbroeck said, and the dropout rate very low - 90 percent and 6 percent respectively - an excellent showing compared with most physical activity and yoga classes for the elderly.

At the end of the 12 weeks, the subjects reported 6 percent less fear of falling, 34 percent greater lower-body flexibility, and a significant decline in leisure constraints.

Participants described "tremendous benefits," Van Puymbroeck said, repeatedly detailing their improved ability to generalize principles of posture to other situations, enlarged range of motion, better flexibility and improved balance.”

first published online in 2009 at www.LongLisa.com

Thursday, January 7, 2016


Ava and Hugh 2005
It began with a plea - a simple desire- an attraction to something beautiful that you break open and out comes good stuff.  “Mom, I want a pinata for my next birthday,” declared my young son.  That’s how all this started.

Wanting to fulfill my child’s desire while at the same time provide a lesson in home economics, I went to the garage to gather the supplies:  newspaper and plaster of paris.  I needed balloons, too.  Those could be found in my Yoga bag.  I use them when teaching the breath to children.

A deep inhale -- a complete exhale, it took several breath cycles to fill 2 balloons.  My children and I then spent the next 30 minutes quickly coating the balloons with strips of newspaper slathered in white goop.  We had to work fast because the plaster of paris hardens like a heart broken one too many times.

It took 3 days to make the hard shell around the balloons.  Each thin layer of newspaper needed to dry at least 24 hours before the next coat.  By the third day, the children were not as interested in the process.  I spent the time smoothing, coating, and thinking.

Here were two balloons filled with the waste product of my body.  It’s called apana in Yoga.  Around the “garbage” that I exhaled, I was constructing a firm, thick, hard shell.  Often this is what we do to our bodies.  We keep the bad stuff inside, maintaining a thick exterior, a “thick skin.”

As I dipped my hand in the plaster of paris, gathering more junk to smooth out the newspaper wrinkles on the balloon, I realized we also soften the rough edges on our exterior body -- masking the junk, the anxiety, the stress, the pain, the guilt, the sadness held inside of us.

The children did help me paint the pinatas - bright orange and yellow - sunny, happy,  up colors.  We decorated them, just like we adorn our bodies with feathers, ribbons, and sparkles that glitter in the sun like a cubic zirconia - pretty, but not quite the real thing.

The balloons were still inside hidden under the exterior gloss.  After nearly a week, one was pretty much deflated, a lot like the interior self gets when the bad stuff stays inside too long.  It’s as if our hearts and souls shrivel.

The other balloon was still fully inflated.  Amazing -- all that yucky stuff was still inside.  Poised with a sharp pin, my daughter took aim and popped the balloon.  Could it really be that simple?  What does it take to let the garbage out?  A sharp, quick poke?  What brings about that kind of transformation?

The reason we hear a loud sound when a balloon pops has to do with the air moving quickly and the molecules colliding.  Think of it as a mass exodus.  Like making the pinatas, once we pop the balloon inside, there’s now room to fill the empty vessel with treats, goodies, and surprises.

On a sunny, blue sky afternoon, children gathered in my backyard.  Our homemade pinatas swung from a glorious Live Oak.  Eyes covered by bandanas, sense of sight lost, hands wildly swung bats through the gentle breeze.  There were many misses.  A few strikes that were not quite hard enough.  Then, CRACK!  The exterior masterpiece, carefully crafted over time, molded, shaped, smoothed, and decorated - blew away in the wind.   And spilling out -- the sweet stuff!  The goodness inside flies out across space - hands reach and gather, craving deliverance, drawing sustenance.

It was only a pinata, yet we touched another soul.

Copyright 2005 Lisa A. Long